AUSTIN, Tex. (UPI) -- A crazed student went on an 80-minute campus rampage with an armful of weapons Monday in the worst mass killing in U.S. history. He shot 45 persons, hilling his wife, his mother and 13 others before a shaken off-duty policeman shot him dead atop the 27-story University of Texas tower.
Charles J. Whitman, a 24-year-old architectural engineering student who once rejected psychiatric help, climbed to a ledge near the top of the 307-foot tower and calmly stalked scores of summer students, professors and visitors to the rolling green campus.
Shortly before the tower's clock struck noon, the first shot rang out. For the next hour and 20 minutes, the lazy summer campus was turned into a hellish battleground of dead, dying and wounded.
The noontime terror ended when patrolman Ramiro Martinez slowly edged his way around the observation platform and six pistol slugs and a shotgun blast into the sniper, a Texas junior with a B average.
Soon after Whitman's blood-covered and limp body was carried from the tower, police found the young man's wife and mother. The wife, Kathleen, 23, was stabbed to death in the Whitman apartment. His mother, Mrs. C.M. Whitman, was shot to death in her home.
Whitman, an ex-Marine, ex-altar boy, Ex-Eagle Scout, left three notes, one a rambling two-page letter which said his mother would be better off in heaven and that he hated his father "with a mortal passion."
Police also found a camera with a note which read: "Please have the film developed, Charles Whitman." The film was sent to Dallas for processing.
Police Chief R.A. (Bob) Miles gave this version of the last day of Whitman's life:
Sometime before 3 a.m., Monday he stabbed his wife to death and shot his mother to death. "Wife and mother both dead," he noted in one of his letters.
Some six hours later he purchased a 12-gauge shotgun on a time payment plan, carried it home, cut off its stock and sawed off its barrel. At the same time, he assembled an arsenal that included two Luger pistols, a 6.1mm rifle with a telescopic sight, a 35-caliber rifle, a 30.06 rifle, a 357 magnum pistol, the new shotgun and three knives.
He packed everything in a foot locker. Then he put away some water in a container, some gasoline, some sandwiches. And late Monday morning he lugged the entire thing to the campus tower, using a dolly to make the last party of the trip to the elevator.
Getting off at the last stop, Whitman dragged his foot locker off the elevator and hauled it, step by step, up a long flight of stairs. The first killing occurred here.
A woman elevator attendant whose job it is to greet visitors and have them sign a register blocked the sniper's way. He shot her dead. He then came upon a woman and two children, tourists visiting the campus landmark, and shot them down. The father escaped to a nearby room.
Frank Lucas, a university employee in an office below the observation deck, heard someone scream "Help!" Another voice followed: "Don't come near me! Don't come near me! Don't come near me!" Several shots rang out.
Two unarmed campus security guards, hearing the shots' report, entered the building and took the elevator to the top. They found three bodies and quickly descended to warn others to stay away from the tower.
City police were alerted and the siege was on -- a desperate, nightmarish encounter between a small army of law officers and a single, well-armed man who held the strategic heights.
A shot rang out. A bicycle rider careened crazily in the midday sun. Then he and the bike fell over.
More shots. People fell like soldiers. More bullets rained down. A little boy, also on a bicycle, fell dead. Three bodies lay together. Rescuers could not reach them.
Police officer Billy Speed crouched near the tower and a bullet ripped into his shoulder, "Oh, I'm hit," he cried out, slumping over. He later died.
Officers prowled the malls surrounding the tower. An airplane circled the tower, firing at the sniper. An armored car lumbered over the grass finally to pick up the dead and wounded.
Denver Dolman, operator of a book store at the edge of the campus, was watching a Negro student riding his bicycle down the mall leading away from the main building and tower.
The student wavered and Dolman heard a loud report. The bicyclist fell to the sidewalk. Passersby came to help and more shouts rang out. "People started falling," Dolman said.
A student walking from class fell. Then another and another. Many lay where they fell. No one could get near.
Lana Phillips, 21, of Dallas, ran screaming into a store, blood oozing from a wound. Abdul Khasap of Mosul, Iraq, was hit in the arm. His fiancee, Janet Paulas, was struck in the chest as they walked on a nearby street.
One of the city policemen hugging the ground was Ramiro Martinez, 29, who had been cooking a steak at his home a few minutes before and contemplating his duty shift, to begin in three hours.
He heard of the shootings on the radio, got his pistol and hurried to the campus. He got into the main building and worked his way upstairs.
With officer Houston McCoy and Allen Crum, a university employee, Martinez got to the top, making his way past four bodies sprawled on the stairs and the landing.
He and Crum edged around opposite sides of the observation walkway. The sniper saw Crum and fired. Martinez emptied his service revolver into the sniper's body. McCoy burst on the scene and fired a shotgun blast. Martinez grabbed the shotgun and fired another blast point blank at the sniper.
Shaking with shock, Martinez grabbed a green flag and waved it. The siege was over.
In the little town of Needville, Tex. south of Houston, the family of Kathleen Leissner Whitman heard the news with shock. They called the police and asked them to check the Whitman home.
Officers found the 23-year-old Mrs. Whitman stabbed to death. One of the three disordered notes found said of his mother, "if there is a heaven, she is in heaven. But if there is no heaven, she is at least out of her misery." Of his father, the note said, Whitman hated him "with a mortal passion."
Whitman's mother was found in her own apartment in another section of Austin, shot to death.
The stunned university was silent as a tomb today. University officials canceled all classes and ordered flags flown at half-staff.
Texas Gov. John Connally cut short a trip to South America and flew back from Rio de Janeiro to the state capitol, located at Austin.
Connally said he was "shocked and grieved" by the slayings.
President Lyndon B. Johnson wired his condolences to Paul Bolton of Johnson's radio television station KTBC in Austin. Bolton is the grandfather of one of the victims, Paul Sonntag.